Drew’s interests include marine biodiversity and conservation, ecology of infectious disease in the marine environment, mechanisms of host resistance to disease and compounding impacts of climate change in the ocean.
The current focus of Dr. Harvell's laboratory group is on the ecology and evolution of coral resistance to disease. A subtheme of this work includes evaluating the impacts of a warming climate on coral reef ecosystems. Her analyses and papers have led to the now widespread acceptance that diseases in marine ecosystems are important, particularly in the very climate-sensitive coral reef ecosystems. Projects in her lab involve a variety of approaches, including field studies, molecular techniques, chemical analyses and mathematical modeling. She has worked for many years on coral reefs in the Mexican Yucatan and Florida Keys and more recently in Hawaii and Indonesia. Her work has been featured in national and international media. She has been a sabbatical fellow at National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Vice President of the Society of American Naturalists, chaired both the World Bank Targeted Research Program on Coral Disease and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis program on the Ecology of Marine Disease and is a senior scientist at The Kohala Center, Hawaii.